More on Mother Culture

Mother Culture is part of Charlotte Mason philosophy despite her never referring to the term itself.  Anyone following a Charlotte Mason education should know Karen Andreola, her books and her beautiful blog “Moments with Mother Culture“.  Karen believes so strongly in  Mother Culture that she trademarked it as a concept.

She defines Mother Culture ~

Mother Culture is, simply put, an act of the mother in which she continues her own education throughout her mothering years. Its purpose seems to be to prevent burnout.  When the mother keeps growing, then she continually has something to offer to her children and household. “

Mother Culture encourages a mother to allow herself a bit of recreation, refresh herself by exploring her own interests, and to find a little time for herself, especially when so many others depend on her.

From my experience, I know that mothers with young children may feel that this is just too difficult!  So much time and energy are spent on coping with the myriad of demands her young family constantly call on her for, that there is barely time enough to have a leisurely shower, let alone learn and grow as an individual.  But there will come a time when this season deep in the toddler trenches ends and you’ll find space around you expanding with new opportunity to grow and develop yourself and expand your own learning.

May I encourage you to try adding small but meaningful ways towards growth and discovery, towards adding the little touches that make your heart and home happythink of 5 minutes for your 5 sensessight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. 

Pick one skill you desire to learn and set aside a few minutes a day to learn this. This can easily be done after the children go to bed, but always include them in your growth of the skill, so they are seeing your example of education is for life.

  • Spend some time alone early in the morning before the kids wake up for quiet prayer, Bible reading and journaling.   Why not brew yourself a lovely cup of hot coffee or tea and sip it slowly savouring the aroma and taste as you meditate and read.
  • Then simply add the next little touch such as lighting some lovely oils in a diffuser which fills your room with healing aromas, calms the nerves, inspires the heart and clears the head.
  • Play some classical music on your playlist as gentle music in the background.
  • Perhaps a beautiful hymn might inspire you, so why not learn a new hymn each month?  Play worship songs as you tidy, pack away or get the room ready.  Perhaps you could learn to play a musical instrument?
  • Display a beautiful artwork on an easel or propped up on a shelf for everyone to see and admire.  Once a week find another work of the same artist and hang it up to enjoy.
  • Pick flowers or pot some new pot plants and fill your rooms with touches and scents of nature.
  • Learn a new handicraft such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, spinning or weaving.  These activities are a wonderful way of being quietly creative, keeping busy hands while still being able to listen to your children or watch them as they play.
  • This is also a wonderful opportunity to listen to an audiobook or interesting podcast.
  • Why not take up a foreign language.  There are wonderful smartphone apps to make this quick and easy with just 10 minutes a day you could learn enough to inspire basic conversations which may well add to realising dreams of an overseas trip one day!
  • And while talking about learning a new skill, take time to plan your meals for the week.  This will help you remember to take out the meat to defrost and plan one new delicious, nutritious recipe for each week.  Try something new for the kids to bake or to prepare and cook with you, or find slow cooker recipes that take almost no time at all to place in the crockpot to simmer till dinner time.  Meal planning is essential to prevent that 5 o’clock panic which paralysed me when I didn’t know what to make for dinner!
  • And get physical — A brisk walk each day will help, or a short yoga session early in the morning, perhaps some gentle rebounding while the kettle is boiling or the washing machine runs the final spin?  A fit mom feels capable and strong enough to meet the physical demands on her during the day.  Exercise helps build up your immunity and helps ease anxiety, stress and sluggishness.

Brandy of After Thoughts wrote a lovely post On Mother Culture where she encourages mothers to devote time daily to Mother Culture.  She recommends that mothers read their own books daily and she says ~

What I’ve learned is that there is a time for reading a lot, and a time for reading a little, and though we should never stop learning and growing, it takes wisdom to know how much is appropriate.

Dollie of Joy In The Home shares on Mother Culture The What Why and How says that nature studies are a perfect example as a place for cultivating Mother Culture.  With a true Charlotte Mason education, when a child found something in nature, they would ask the mother what it was and the mother would have an answer for its name and something interesting to share about it. When mothers enjoy their own time in nature, observing, journaling, building up their own knowledge, they not only to provide any answer their child may have but to develop their own lifestyle of interest and wonder. Read my post where I shared the joys of keeping my own nature journal.

Linda Johnson of Charlotte Mason help.com quotes in her post Mother Culture: What it is and What it is not

We mothers need to continue filling our minds with ideas that challenge and inspire us and this should be done primarily through the habit of reading. Otherwise, when our children grow older and take in more complex ideas and grapple with life’s challenging issues, we will not be able to offer them our valuable wisdom and insight. 

“Each mother must settle this for herself. She must weigh things in the balance. She must see which is the most important–the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she may do with that time to keep herself ‘growing’ for the sake of that baby ‘some day,’ when it will want her even more than it does now.” 

She describes her warm, close relationship with her adult daughters as a result of her investing in herself by “stimulating my mind so that I would have something of value to say to them when they came to me with difficult questions.”  Her discipleship in her parent-child relationship was built on her Bible readings and wisdom gained from reading great literature.  “This makes for a beautiful, life-long relationship and it prevents me from homeschool burnout. “

img-20160513-wa0004

I can thoroughly endorse her statements because I have also found the wonderful joy of close and meaningful relationships with my adult daughters.  This has come as a result of the deep investment of years of sharing, growing and learning alongside my adult daughters as well as lives lived together filling our home with singing, laughter, movies, chats and times of tears.  Our shared passion for music, arts, homemaking and deeply spiritual lives has bonded us in wonderful ways that Mother Culture inspired in our Charlotte Mason homeschool journey.

As I enter my final homeschool year with my youngest daughter I can see the value of Mother Culture in keeping me vibrant, alive and excited for the new that is ahead.  No empty nest syndrome here – just precious time to grow and deepen my walk with the Lord, my husband and with others as I live out my calling and purpose.

Let me finish here with this quote from Linda ~

But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.
Keep on growing and learning, moms.  Actively add things to brighten and enrich your home and household.  Be the shining example of a fulfilled and interested person who knows and loves where she is and what she is busy within each season of her life.
Much love, grace and Mother Culture to you.
Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Perpetual Nature Journal Joys

Last year I introduced you to Lara Gastiger and her inspiring nature journals and beautiful botanical artwork.

Lara Gastinger, sketchbooks, nature sketchbook, nature journal, sketchbook journal, nature sketchbook journal, Sketchbook Conversations

Recently I read Anne’s interview with Lara Gastiger on My Giant Strawberry  – A Sketchbook Conversation.  Here’s how Lara describes her perpetual nature journal ~

“I encourage everyone to obtain a blank journal that is a portable size and proceed to date the pages so that each spread represents a week. All you need is to write or draw an observation each week. This could be as elaborate as a full drawing or just a note. Be sure to include all relevant information (date, weather, who you are with, what do you hear/see) and then next year on that week, you will return to the same page and add something else. It becomes so rich as the years build up upon each other and you will become so knowledgable about the plants around you!

What an inspiration, but what is a perpetual nature journal?” you may ask.

A perpetual journal is nature journal that you keep coming back to, year after year, adding new sketches and notes to the same week and month’s pages until you have the most wonderful collection of nature entries spanning all the seasons over several years!

As I pondered this, I realized that there are several joys to working in a perpetual journal ~Lara Gastinger, sketchbooks, nature sketchbook, nature journal, sketchbook journal, nature sketchbook journal, Sketchbook Conversations

  • A perpetual journal makes such a lot of sense!  This gradual approach reveals your personal, accumulative journey of nature study over the years, displaying all the details you noticed in each season.  (Just remember that the photo above is Lara’s perpetual nature journal pages after adding to them for 16 years!)
  • What is even better is that you don’t have to fill a full nature journal page!  Each week, just add a small sketch or some field notes or observations noted for that week, and your entry is done.  Simple and doable, don’t you agree?
  • Instead of spending a long time trying to fill a whole page, by devoting the same time to a journal entry, you can create very intricate sketches and detailed, accurate observations, like Lara!
  • When you return to the same week’s page spread the next year, your pages will already have some evidence of things you journaled in the previous year at the same time.  These permanent records, along with your new entries, further highlight and emphasize what happens in that season, at that time of the year.  (I suppose though, that if you moved to a completely different zone or region, you would have to consider starting a new perpetual journal to keep track of nature in this new area.)
  • This approach is very similar to Charlotte Mason‘s practice of keeping a “Calendar of Firsts“. ( I hope to share more on this in an upcoming post.)
  • This practice fits perfectly in with Barb of Handbook of Nature Study’s  Outdoor Mom Journal nature journal prompts each month.  Again, small weekly sketches and notes to the same journal pages give you the freedom to create a wonderful, detailed nature journal through the years.
  • Moms, I really encourage you to keep your own perpetual nature journal and purpose to spend time each week making your own nature journal entries as a part of developing “Mother Culture®“.  It may not seem like it now, when you are deep in the homeschool trenches with littlies underfoot, but in a flash, your children will be in high school and your time will open up for more personal growth, and this practice may well become a fulfilling lifestyle even when your children have graduated and moved on.
  • Your nature journal eventually becomes a marvellous, rich collection that will amaze and please you every time you come back to that page spread.

Please join me next time as I plan to share on how to make your own perpetual nature journal.

Blessings, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Mom’s Nature Journal Beach Walk

Recently we walked along the pristine Witsand beach at the Breede River estuary at low tide. There was so much to notice and, although I didn’t bring my phone along to take photos, I made detailed mental notes as we walked.

I noticed the shells, the seagrass, seagull feathers, patterns in the sand, patterns of floating sand particles in the little water ripples, algae growing on exposed rocks, holes in the sand, whelk shell patterns, twigs and driftwood.  At times, as I looked carefully, the patterns looked like abstract art. It was beautiful.

When we got home, I sat quietly and created a double-page spread of our beach walk in my nature journal ~I enjoyed creating the sand ripple patterns as well as the detailed sketches of shells and seagrass.On the other page, I added a boxed area to show the floating sand patterns which I saw in the shallow pools, as well as adding detailed pen sketches of the seagull feathers.


Nature journaling brought back wonderful memories of our lovely long walk on the low tide seashore.

Recently I shared my discovery of Lara Gastiger’s botanical art.  She has created a perpetual nature journal and adds to the monthly pages each year.  What a wonderful way of creating layers and details to double-page spreads.  This way, there is no pressure to fill up a whole page, but to simply sketch a detailed entry in a space and that’s it!

If you need some journaling ideas, I encourage you, moms, to join Barb’s of Handbook of Nature Study’s  Outdoor Mom Journal nature journal prompts each month:

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

I love the simple joy of doing a monthly Mom’s Nature Journal entry.  Charlotte Mason calls it “Mother Culture“ and it is a wonderful way of learning and growing along with our children.  It is also an activity that can extend long past these busy homeschooling years to become part of your own personal creative and observational life!

Happy nature journaling!

Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Time for creative mom

In response to my post Sketching Again, a reader recently asked,

“How much time do we as moms need each day to be creative? “

I suppose it depends on your family life and demands on your time, and whether you enjoy creative activities.  Enjoyment is a powerful motivation.

If I can carve just 20 minutes of creative sketch time for myself, I feel so grateful and rewarded. This is not every day, and it is not always possible when life and stressful situations are more important, but it is something I find easy to pick up and do when there is a lull or gap in my days.  Right now, with just one teen to assist in her homeschooling, I have a lot more free time than I had while juggling three young kids all on different cores so I can find time to be creative!

We need to grow and be creative ourselves in order to give continually to others.

For some folk that “creative / me time” may be physical, such as going for a brisk walk or run, doing a quick workout, or taking a nice hot bath with soft music playing. Others need to be alone, maybe to read a book or listen to a podcast.   Some love to garden, sew, knit, quilt, or sketch.

When the children are young, then it is best to sketch or craft with them. Within a few weeks of doing sketches or nature journal prompts, the kids feel more confident and know what to do and can pretty much work without your help, giving you that time to do the activity along with them.

P1170201

Doing art together with my children. You’ll see my art page at the bottom of the picture.

We enjoyed Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays, a whole day for our Music and Art Appreciation lessons and some poetry or Shakespeare.  Our Fridays were always so relaxing and enjoyable, so different from our normal school schedule, that we all looked forward to this time together.  It was also very informal.  We simply listened to a classical music piece while observing an artist’s work and often did some art ourselves.

Sketch Tuesdays always were a wonderful opportunity to draw and sketch something really simple.  Because we had a whole week to complete the sketch, there never was any pressure.  And despite there being no feedback or critique given, the children learnt so much about their art and skills simply by viewing the slideshow and experimenting with new and different art mediums.  We sometimes copied other famous artist’s style in some of our Sketch Tuesday sketches, discovering the artist’s true talent and ability.  Again, it is fairly simple to pull out some paper and sketch and paint right alongside your children.

Otherwise, simply do something creative and personally rewarding in the afternoons while the family are doing their own thing.  I often find a half hour after lunch before I need to take down washing or start preparing dinner.  Weekends are also a good time to sketch, paint, garden, sew or do some sort of creative hobby.

If you have lots of children, or little babies or busy toddlers, then you may be deep in the trenches, and creative time for yourself might be impossible for this season, but, remember, that this season will pass, and you will be able to have your body and space back!

Blessings to you as you carve out small Mother Culture moments for yourself each week.

In Grace, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

 

Recent Sketches

Recently I shared that I had started Sketching Again.  I decided to keep my Mom’s Nature Journal and sketchbook out on my desk as a visual reminder, and I try to spend about 20 minutes daily sketching and painting in time squeezed between folding laundry and preparing dinner.

I am using the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and here are my latest sketches ~

I was particularly happy how my first watercolour portrait came out, but I am not including the second portrait I did of my other daughter because it was so completely off that it would be a huge injustice to her if I posted it.  Portraits are really tricky!

I enjoyed creating all the details in “Popping bubble wrap” and felt good about the painting of the hands in “Rock., Paper, Scissors”.  The other paintings felt a bit “meh”, but I enjoyed the process and feel that I am learning as I go along.

It is important to just keep painting, experimenting, changing the approach or the medium.  If you are in a slump, just play.  Do abstracts.  Don’t worry about the end-results.  Just have fun!

For those who are keen to try sketching daily, why not join the rest of the world (really!) with Inktober  31 Days 31 Drawings.

I encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.   Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create an entry in your Mom’s nature journal page.  It is wonderful to give yourself time to sit and be creative.

Blessings, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Sketching Again

Recently I shared that I had lost my inspiration and that somehow I had lost the joy in my sketching.  Truth be told, I actually hated my own recent art work.  Every attempt seemed so childish, colored-in and flat.  It wasn’t the lack of inspiration, but the lack of style.

I love pinning ideas and finding artists who inspire me on  Pinterest and Instagram posts.  There is an endless stream of amazing sketches and art, but the result of all this influence is not helpful to developing one’s own art.

You need to create your own art to find your own creative style. 

My 17-year-old daughter’s advice to me was to try a new art medium or technique.  This is very helpful, especially if you just play around without an end product in mind. I suppose recovering from lost art inspiration is a bit like horse riding after a fall; you need to get straight back up and ride again.   But in the end, finding art inspiration and personal style is like the Nike slogan ~ “Just do it“.

During a quiet spell this past weekend and this week, I pulled out my sketchbook, downloaded the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and began again.

My first attempts were not too bad, but I found that, as I sketched daily, I rediscovered something in my style that I liked, and the joy returned.  I loved the simple pleasure of sketching and painting.  I loved the quiet, right-brain activity.  And I enjoyed my art again.

While still finding my new artistic joy, I want to encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.  You need times of creativity.  Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create a nature journal page (prompts at the bottom of the post) each week.  It is so restorative.

Charlotte Mason called it “Mother Culture“; spending time learning and growing.  Spend regular time reading your own book list, creating art and journaling in nature; all part of your personal growth portfolio.

May I encourage you if you haven’t done any sketching for a while ~  Start again,  Just Do It!

Blessings, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook